tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC July 8, 2010 11:00pm-12:00am EDT
no solar power in play. i'm keith olbermann. goodnight and good luck. now to discuss t tea party versus the neocons, in for rachel maddow is lebron james, i'm cory, chris hayes. >> thank you. rachel is safe and sound, headed west right now. tonight, we have lebron james live and in studio. in the next ten minutes, he will reveal to us and to you -- sorry, okay, my bad. wrong network. apparently the "s" and "n" got me confused. lebron james is not here. but in the event that you care, we have a specially designed cable news thingy that keeps you up-to-date on this way-too-hyped decision. which is apparently happening while we talk about a genuinely huge news story. we begin tonight with breaking news out of massachusetts. big breaking news. a federal judge ruled that the federal government's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. a bombshell. u.s. district court judge del
toro decided that the defense of marriage act violates the fundamental principles of this nation. with that, the judge made advocates of marriage equality very happy. one of the rulings involved seven gay couples and three widowers, all of whom have been married in the state of massachusetts, and all of whom had been ineligible for the federal benefits that come with being lawfully wed. thanks to the 199 defense of marriage act. that law required the federal government to ignore for federal purposes any marriage not between a man and women. same-sex wedded couples have no access to family health insurance, no social security survivor benefits, no joint filing of federal taxes. there are two salient things about the rulings. first, the judge granted the plaintiffs what's known as summary judgment. both sides filed their arguments and the judge decided he didn't need to hear another word. judge toro saying the rationale strains credulity.
and that quote, irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest. judge toro ruled that a key part of the bill violated a couple's right to equal protection. that's salient fact number one. point number two, judge toro also ruled for the commonwealth of massachusetts, saying the federal government wrongly forced it to discriminate. writing, the federal government, by enforcing doma encroaches on the province of the state and in doing so offends the tenth amendment. offends the tenth amendment. whoa! the tenth amendment is the "don't tread on me" amendment. it's to right-wingers what the first amendment is to the aclu. it's the one conservatives are using to repeal health reform. it's the one used to declare sovereign citizens not subject to the law of the land. it's texas governor rick perry's favorite battle cry. now, today, the tenth amendment means gay couples are one step
closer to being treated equally in this country. don't tread on them either. joining me is the massachusetts attorney general, martha coakley, who filed a lawsuit challenging the defense of marriage act. attorney general, thank you for being here. >> my pleasure. >> it was one year ago today you filed the lawsuit. what does today's ruling mean for the plaintiffs in this case as of tonight? >> well, for the plaintiffs and for massachusetts, it means that everybody in massachusetts who's married will be treated the same. that was our argument on behalf of the commonwealth, that we didn't want to have to keep two sets of books and discriminate against our citizens who have not that restricted definition of marriage but a marriage that says by our supreme court since 2004 that same-sex marriage is allowed in massachusetts. in fact, it's required under our own constitution, also written by john adams. we're delighted with the ruling. it means there are a lot of
things we don't have to do. we don't have to keep a separate set of books for federal benefits, including social security to medical benefits, veterans can be treated the same way. of course, for the plaintiffs in the suit, it means that they will be treated as opposite sex couples are in massachusetts. >> you mentioned this. talk a little bit more about what the kind of entire category of those benefits are. i think that it's easy to lose sight of just the amount of benefits that accrue to married couples. what are we looking at in terms of what that category of things are? >> it's a whole range of things. it includes everything from social security to how you file your income tax to what kind of medical benefits you may be entitled to. if your spouse is a federal employee, retirement issues may be very different. there are over 1,100 different
benefits, ways in which federal law would treat somebody differently here in massachusetts. frankly, it is difficult for massachusetts. it's a burden on massachusetts to keep those two sets of books. for some purposes, you're married under our law. other purposes, you're not married under the federal law. the judge's decision changed that today. >> this is a decision in federal district court. what is next for the case? is it reasonable we'll see an appeal? >> that's up to the government. obviously that's not our call, but the decision has not been stayed. it's now effective. it means obviously we're going to work with our state agencies and with people in massachusetts to make sure we can implement this. this is now the law in massachusetts, that all married couples will be treated the same for federal and state benefits. >> i want to press you on something you said today. you said it's unconstitutional for the federal government to decide who is married. that seems to me to open the door to a kind of double-edged sword, right?
because presumably we might want some federal law passed that institutes marriage equality. it seems that argument could be used by states that don't want to grant it to deny marriage equality. >> we don't agree with that. keep in mind, this has to do solely with what massachusetts has done, which is extend civil rights, as we believe it should be. we hope this leads to the extension of civil rights throughout the country. we don't think it will cause the shrinking of them. massachusetts has decided that. what we said is that the congress cannot now by a statute, change what massachusetts has done. the reverse isn't true. it doesn't mean that it will affect other states right now one way or the other. it just says congress cannot pass a law that the judge found has no basis but to discriminate, and that's key in this. we're talking about civil rights and what massachusetts has done. we think it's a good effect for massachusetts and we hope it
will continue the discussion for marriage equality and civil rights across the country. >> martha coakley, thank you so much for being here. >> my pleasure. thank you. have a good night. >> joining me is tobias wolf, law professor at the university of pennsylvania. mr. wolf was chief advisorier to the obama presidential campaign. mr. wolf, thanks so much for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> let's talk about the obama administration. the president finds himself in an interesting sort of bind here. he has officially stated on the record he's against doma. his representatives in federal court argued for doma in this case. what do you see as being the decision procedure in deciding whether or not to appeal? >> it's going to be difficult not to appeal. this administration has been put in a rotten position. on the one hand, the president doesn't just oppose the defense of marriage act. he has announced as a priority of his administration three times on live tv from the white house he wants congress to
repeal this statute. it's a discriminatory statute. he's been saying that for years. he wants to get rid of it. that commitment runs up against an important principle. which is the obligation of the justice department to defend statutes already on the books if they think there's a reasonable argument they can make. reasonable minds can disagree about what their obligations were in this case. but i think it was not an unreasonable decision on their part to say we've got to mount an offense to this statute. when the question comes, are they going to appeal this case, they're faced with the same dilemma. i will say this. there was a press conference earlier today i was able to sit in on by telephone. the lawyers for the doma plaintiffs actually said the same thing. they said it would be difficult for the federal government not to appeal at this point. the more judicial decisions we get like today's, which helped to establish in the courts the principle that anti-gay discrimination and discrimination against relationships of gay couples is unconstitutional and
impermissible, the more ammunition it will give the justice department to perhaps take a second look at that question. >> let's talk about the next steps. this will likely get appealed. it seems to me -- and i'm an amateur in this department -- that it's going to end up in the supreme court. it's that kind of case, i would imagine. is that what you foresee? could we be faced with a fascinating situation in which elena kagan is sitting on the court on exactly this case? >> the next step is it goes to the first circuit court of appeals. if the plaintiffs win before the first circuit, i think it's quite likely that the court will sdi decide it has to take the case. in figuring out what the implications of this case, it's important to keep in mind what it does and doesn't decide. i want to clarify one thing you said that top of the show. this isn't a case about the constitutionality of excluding gay couples from marriage. nothing in this case has to do with whether states have to let gay couples get married. what this is about where you've
got five states, including the district of columbia that let gay couples get married. can they let them treat this differently? whatever the court's approach to the marriage question is going to be, if they ever are called upon to decide it, this is a much more -- this is a question that seems much harder to defend, right? that you've got couples that are married under state law. this goes back to part of what attorney general coakley was saying. they were interfering with the state's own decision about the couples they want to see getting married. so i don't think that we should make any quick assumptions about how the court would decide this case. there are federal issues in this case, too. >> tobias wolf, thank you for joining me on set. >> you bet. so, constitution-loving, deficit-loathing conservatives. which do you love more, small government or the security of knowing there's a spigot on of cash pouring into our bloated
military industrial gigantosaur? uh-oh. dilemma. congressman barney frank will be here to make his case. stick around. [ engines revving ] [ tires screech ] [ engine revving ] [ male announcer ] before you take it on your road trip... we take it on ours. [ children laughing ] now during the summer event, get an exceptionally engineered mercedes-benz like the 2010 c-class, an iihs top safety pick, for 1.9 percent apr or lease one for $349 a month. and at holiday inn, you always can. holiday inn. stay you.
oil is still gushing out of bp's busted well. there won't be a moratorium on deepwater drilling. and the whole country is focused on the worst fossil fuel disaster in the history of the republic. and we're not getting a new climate change bill? the great disconnect of 2010 is coming up. stay tuned. [ male announcer ] hello, bikes and backpacks. ♪
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cap the broken well that has been spewing oil into the gulf of mexico for 80 days earlier than they thought. bob dudley said relief wells might be finished as early as july 27th. well ahoefd the mid-august timeline they've been operating under so far. the oil spewing into the gulf of mexico is only half the story. it's only a tiny fraction of the crisis. a few weeks ago, i was down on the gulf coast. i was eating at a seafood restaurant in houma, louisiana, with a scientist surveying the oil on the louisiana coast. he told me something really striking. he said the gulf coast can probably survive the bp oil disaster. what it can't survive is a three-foot rise in the sea level. what it can't survive is a climate change disaster. he said the problem is not the oil from the bp deepwater horizon spill. the problem is every other drop of oil on earth. it's every barrel we burn. every molecule of carbon we put into the air.
but at the same time as we're all watching this painful reminder of the cost of our dependence on oil, the cost of our energy crisis, there is one piece of legislation that could save the gulf coast in the long run. it's on life support right now. it's not quite dead but it's in the process of being killed by the same oil interests we've come to be so outraged by by what's happening in the gulf. in other words, there is a second oil disaster here. just as everybody's watching the oil spill disaster, there is an oil policy disaster unfolding in our nation's capitol. but it's not too late. a real claimant change bill passed the house last year and there's one on the senate floor. if there's one single piece of legislation that we will look back on in 100 years that the residents of the gulf coast will look back on in 100 years as having preserved this region of the country, it's this bill. in political terms, you think a bill like that would have a really, really good chance of passing right about now. what with everyone in the country watching the slow-motion
assault on 40% of our nation's wetlands and the seafood industry live on tv every day. turns out, not so much. not everyone is on board with the straight forward logic that suggests the appropriate response to a massive crisis caused by oil might be a measure to reduce the amount of oil we use. even as oil continues to spew into the gulf of mexico from an underground gusher 50 miles off the louisiana coast, republicans in congress continue full speed ahead with their effort to kill the one piece of legislation that could effectively reduce our dependence on oil and stave off the much bigger oil crisis that comes in a package deal with global warming. >> national energy tax. they call it a climate bill. what it is is a national energy tax. i can pretty confidently tell you a bipartisan amount of the senate are not going to buy that. >> i think it's still dead. no matter which way they move,
they're not going to have the votes to pass it. >> i will work with the president, democrats and republicans to come up with an energy policy. but i'm not going to do it in the mild of an oil spill where the political environment doesn't favor what i want. i'm not going to do it between now and november where an oil spill dominates the politics and the headlines. >> what's happening here is that the president and some liberals here in congress want to use this disaster as an excuse for imposing their cap and trade national energy tax on america. >> while we're trying to clean up an oil spill and create jobs in this country is no time to put a national energy tax on the production of energy in the united states. >> president obama made it clear that he intends to exploit this crisis to push his liberal agenda for a cap and tax scheme. >> i have a climate change question. >> that's john mccain, hero and
brave maverick walking away. joining us now is dave roberts, staff writer for grist.org. that's a great site. david, thank you for being here. >> thanks for having me. >> let's just about this energy bill, the john kerry/joe lieberman bill stands right now. is there a chance it could pass? >> there's very little chance at this point that the kerry slec y kerry/lieberman bill could pass. what's happening is there are a number of bills on the table from kerry and lieberman from luger, collins and snowe that a number of senators put forward. it's a buffet right now. what's going to happen is harry reid will cobble pieces together and assemble a bill of his own and introduce that in the next week or two. >> that assembled frankenstein bill, if it's not kerry/lieberman, does that mean there's no carbon tax with it? is there not going to be a price on carbon?
>> no one knows for sure. but the general conventional wisdom is that the full-on, economy-wide cap and trade system in kerry/lieberman, the one that passed the house as well is dead. there's some talk of a more limited cap and trade system that would only cover the electric utilities. that still is on the knife's edge, even though the senator who's putting that bill together, himself is doubtful whether it can get the 60 votes. >> how would that work? if it was restricted utilities, do you see that as a second best? i'm looking for you to throw me a bone here. do you see that as a second-best alternative? >> i can think of a lot better second-best alternatives, but it's better than nothing. but even that, i expect what the strategy will be is rooeeid wil put together a bill from all these pieces and the cap and
trade will be offered as an amendment so people will vote on it separately. they'll want to have a separate vote on this. i am skeptical and most people, whether that second-best option can get to 60. the glide path we're on is a so-called energy-only bill. >> this is infuriating for many reasons. just to increase the frustration, the cdo has released its report on the bill showing it reduces the deficit by $19 billion, which seems like the kind of thing that we could get some, you know, conservative democrats and republicans behind. >> you might think. this is one of the great untold stories of the whole climate fight, is that the bill -- you can think of the bill as having two parts. all the energy stuff, which is bipartisan. everybody loves it. give incentives to nuclear and wind and solar, electric cars. all that stuff spending. that's the spending side, which everyone in washington loves to do. the other half is the price on carbon, which raises the revenue.
what you're seeing in d.c. is everybody loves the spending half and everybody's scared to death of the other half where you raise revenue. chris, i don't want to be cynical about the sincerity of the deficit hawks in the senate but -- >> never. >> but it's peculiar that the ones that are the loudest about their deficit concern are the very ones lining up behind the most expensive, unpaid-for energy bill you can ever imagine. >> two things come to mind. one, can we go after the subsidy side of it? is there a way to try to -- to strip out -- if we're going to not put a price on carbon, at least not be subsidizing carbon, you know, fossil fuel extraction to the level that we are. two, ultimately -- are you thinking now a bill is better than no bill? if it's an energy-only bill and you are voting in the united states senate, you dave roberts, which way do you vote? >> what a nightmare. two things.
the subsidies that we offer oil and gas companies are substantial. i think a recent study between 2002 and 2008, something on the lines of $70 billion in direct subsidies to oil and gas companies. that is another possible source of revenue. it was only last week senator sanders offered an amendment rolling back $35 billion of those subsidies. that amendment was voted down by 67 votes. it wasn't even close. there's not much political well to take on the oil and gas companies, to take away their goodies either. basically what you're seeing is a senate that's allergic to raising revenue by any means. as to the second question, there's energy-only bills and energy-only bills. a lot of different things that could go under that rubric. some of them would be great. there are lots of energy policies that i would happily vote for if i was a senator, and there are lots of policies that would be status quo or worse.
a lot of it depends on what kind of willpower harry reid brings to this. and whether he can say to his fellow senators, all right, i'll drop the price on carbon if you give me stronger energy policies. so we'll have to see what he comes up with. >> david roberts, stave writer for the online environmental magazine grist. that's so much for joining us. sgljts rachel's on her way back from afghanistan, but before she left, richard engel took her to a hillside in kabul. >> reporter: there's a skateboarding park. boys and girls go to the skateboarding park next to the stadium where there were taliban-firing squads. >> skateboarding girls next to the execution stadium? >> that's next. stay with us. (laughing through computer) good night, buddy. good morning, dad. (announcer) oreo. milk's favorite cookie.
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i'm chris hayes sitting in for rachel maddow while she makes her way back from afghanistan. she's heading stateside just as secretary gates announced a replacement for general petraeus. the secretary announced today he's nominating four-star general james mattes to general petraeus' former post overseeing the wars in iraq and afghanistan. he will have to be confirmed by the senate before taking command. in her days in the war zone, rachel had an able tour guide to show hr around afghanistan, nbc's richard engel. to get some perspective, they hiked up the hill overlooking the capital city of kabul. >> we've come up to higher ground so we can get the lay of
the land literally. tell me what we can see from here. >> you can see all of kabul stretched out below. it's pretty high, about 6,000 feet. we're probably around thousand feet above that. over there you can see the green roof. that was the old olympic stadium where the taliban used to carry out executions. now it is once again a sports stadium. oddly enough, one of the most bizarre stories in kabul, there's a skateboarding park and boys and girls go to this skateboarding park right next to the stadium where there were taliban firing squads. >> skateboarding girls next to the execution stadium? >> former execution stadium. yes. it's right there. this is a good spot to get a sense of what happened here, how it's changed since the founding of the mogul dynasty, the empire until now. >> out of anarchy, you had the taliban come to power between
1989 and 1994. the people who were not the taliban, who didn't win that, are those the people who we're now negotiating with, hoping they'll take over this time post-taliban and the taliban themselves? >> the people who didn't win mostly became the northern alliance. they joined with american forces to take over kabul. they have been the biggest victors by far. they're the ones that got all the government contracts, they have all the money, they have all the power. most of the ministries are people who were anti-taliban resistance, uzbeks, who joined the americans and came in. they have -- >> not pashduns. >> no. karzai being the exception. >> okay. >> that hasn't been a very harmonious solution. ten years later and we're still fighting this war. now the approach is let's reach out, let's make some sort of deal. you're seeing the afghan government and the americans reaching out to people who were
for a long time considered the enemy. people like the haqqani network, which is in close alliance with al qaeda. >> that's incredible. you can't do it -- you can't have peace without you somebody like that being included in the solution because he's so influential. but it's impossible to imagine a peaceful solution that includes him too. it's amazing. >> some people who don't want that might keep fighting. just because you make peace with your enemy, you may create new enemies in the process. >> i think we should go buy me a burqa. >> let's go buy you a burqa. >> rachel is heading back from kabul right now. no word on the burqa. coming up, which group is more fiscally conservative? congressman barney frank joins us. and lebron. in case you didn't see it before, he is heading to the miami heat. i am sorry, cleveland. i mean that from the bottom of my heart. i just told him, do your best.
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look, we have too much work to do. we have too much work to do. to the point that you just raised about, you know, stepping down, look, every time something happens, people say, oh, he should step down, he should step down. the reality of it is, that's not happening. so stop the noise on that. number two -- >> i ain't going anywhere. that was a defiant michael steele, attempting to silence the critics in his own party asking him to resign after he was caught on tape announcing doubts about afghanistan and chastising president obama for getting involved in and then escalating a war in afghanistan that, in his mind, cannot be won. steele's comments have exposed a rift on the right of the appropriate role of american american military engagement around the world. after steele made those comments, which appeared to advocate for american military restraint, he was almost immediately attacked by the founding father of the neoconservative moment in
america, one william crystal. crystal was among the first to call on steele to resign writing, quote, there are certainly those who think we should pull out of afghanistan. but one of them shouldn't be the chairman of the republican party. after that call from steele to resign, william kristol was called on to resign by ann coulter. coulter wrote, i thought the irreducible requirements of republicanism were being for life, small government and a strong national defense. i guess permanent war is on the platter now too. didn't liberals warn us that neoconservatives want permanent war? this is a conflict on the right that has brewed and bubbled up in little ways. thanks to michael steele it is on full display. the unified front during the bush era was national security. after 9/11, the republican party galvanized itself as the party of strong defense.
that began to fracture a little bit in the run-up to the iraq war. there was a small but vocal minority of people on the right saying the iraq war was a mistake. it was largely national security neoconservative vision that kept the right together. now, in the post bush/obama era, there's a new unifying feature on the right. the thing everybody on the right can agree on is about spending. it's about too much government, too much government spending. too much debt and deficit. that's the thing that really unifies republicans right now. the problem for republicans though is that if you are serious about wanting to cut government spending, you can't help but look first at the bloated military budget. the pentagon budget for the current year is $693 billion. that's up from $667 billion last year. and that number is expected to balloon to $708 billion next year. defense spending has doubled over the last ten years.
as npr recently pointed out, the united states is now spending as much on defense as the rest of the world combined. if you're a republican, this is sort of a problem, right? how can you be the party of national security and the anti-government spending party when national security in its current incarnation makes up the biggest chunk of government spending? enter brewing republican civil war. if you're going to talk about the growth of government, if you're going totake on government spending, you can't really do that without looking at the military budget. that fact has not escaped republican congressman ron paul of texas. he wrote, it is clear to us that if we do not make substantial cuts in the projected levels of pentagon spending we will do substantial damage to our economy. special reductions in military spending must be included in any future deficit reduction package.
challenging congressman paul from his own party, it is none other than fellow tea partier sarah palin. palin arguing via facebook that defense spending should essentially be untouchable. quote, something has to be done urgently to stop the out of control reid/pelosi/obama spending machine. and no government agency should be immune from budget scrutiny. we must make sure that we do nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our military. cut spending in other departments apart from defense. we should not be cutting corners on national security. if the new right is all about restraint, small government and cutting spending, shouldn't military spending be on the table along with everything else? joining us now is barney frank, who co-wrote that op-ed with republican congressman ron paul earlier this week. congressman frank, thank you so much for your time tonight. i appreciate it. >> glad to. thank you. >> let's talk about dollars and cents. there are two categories in terms of cutting back on american defense spending.
one is wasteful spending and padded contracts. the other is a more profound look at the military posture of the u.s. government. i wonder which of the two you and congressman paul are sort of focused on. >> both. but more the latter. i appreciate your making that distinction. if you concede to the geostrategic arguers that we have to have the military foot print that we have, you're not going to save a lot of money. yes, it's nice to be more efficient, but there are two things. first of all, any entity that thinks it has an unlimited budget, it's going to be very hard to impose cuts on them. secondly, waste alone isn't the issue. nato isn't wasteful nato is a great accomplishment of harry truman in 1949. but, you know, harry truman -- if you go from 1949 forward, if you took the same period of time backwards, you're talking about the administration of grover cleveland.
it's an entity that outlived its usefulle usefulless to a great extent and the way we subsidize militaries of europe. the iraq war was 1 trillion dollars. we insist there was a profoundly mistaken geostrategic view that says we're the world police men. we're going to be everywhere. we'll intervene in all disputes. by the way, we usually wind up doing more harm than good and get people mad us. in iraq, the most radical elements, hezbollah, they're stronger as a result of our intervention, not weaker. too long an answer for a very good question. it is the latter, the strategic reach that is the bigger part of the savings. >> you raised the point of the war. let's talk about that for a second. if you're going to start down this road, it seems like the lowest-hanging fruit, quite frankly, is to just vote against the supplemental for the -- for the war in afghanistan. if we're going to start paring back on the amount of money
spending for defense, why continue to fund this war, which is -- >> let's not forget about iraq. you talk about low-hanging fruit. iraq isn't a low-hanging fruit. it's laying on the ground and rotting. i was confronted yesterday by wolf blitzer. he said, well, what's the matter with the president's plan in iraq? he's planning on getting troops out in 2011. i said, what are we paying these guys to do? traffic duty? what are the non-combat troops doing in iraq? we don't want to be spending thousands of dollars on playing traffic cop. in afghanistan, i voted for the amendment that said -- by barbara lee. we will spend only as much money as you need to withdraw in an orderly fashion. put all those troops in there, you can't just walk away. you have to retreat in an orderly fashion and protect people. i think the time has come to do that in afghanistan.
i can understand the argument there. there is no conceivable reason for us to stay in iraq. a place we never should have gone into in the first place, where they are not facing any external enemy and where we're told the combat mission ended in a month. both of those -- it is true there. an even easier one is nato. i like germany. i like the netherlands, denmark. those are nice countries full of nice people. i don't understand what we're defending them against. i don't know who's threatening them. secondly, if they feel threatened, let them defend themselves. this notion that we have to subsidize the budgets of our wealthy western european allies is nuts. and i would throw in japan. we have 15,000 troops in okinawa. i think most people thought the marines left okinawa when john wayne died, even though he never went there himself. what are we doing with marines in okinawa? we need air power and sea power. we're not going to land marines on the chinese main land. there are even easier arguments to make. there are people sitting around, carrying out somebody's
strategic view that have no reasonable function. >> congress frank, i really appreciate you coming on tonight. we will let you go. thank you so much. >> thank you. coming up on "countdown," keith takes glen beck university to school. and the verdict on a california police shooting that has the city of oakland on edge. stick around. the home farming movement. ♪ join us at triscuit.com/homefarming.
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a tragic trial ended with a bewildering verdict in los angeles, california. the case began on new year's day, 2009 when oakland police received a report there had been a fight on a bay area rapid transit train. when officers arrived they detained a 22-year-old african-american man named oscar grant and four of his friends. then the transit police officer, johannes mehserle, arrived on the scene. as one officer kneeled on oscar grant's neck, officer mehserle shot oscar grant in the back. he shot oscar grant, an unarmed man who had committed no crime. a man witnesses say was attempting to defuse the situation. the trial was moved from oakland
to los angeles due to extensive media coverage. los angeles prosecutors have not won a murder conviction in a police shooting since 1983. officer mehserle testified he accidentally drew his gun, located on his right side, thinking it was his taser, which he kept on his left. today the los angeles county jury could have found the former officer guilty of second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life. instead, after deliberating for six hours, they found mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of oscar grant. it carries a sentence of two to four years. what happened to oscar grant was as it happens caught on tape. we've been rolling it. i want you to just take a look for a second. the officer stands up and fires a shot down, killing oscar grant.
>> it's hard to know what to say after seeing that video and seeing the verdict it resulted in. you can note there was not a single african-american juror. it was in los angeles instead of oakland. that even if officer mehserle was reaching for his taser it was completely and totally uncalled for. was he going to put a jolt in grant as he lay prone for no reason? you can say there are a lot of people in oakland and california and across the country tonight dealing once again with the criminal justs system that seems punitive when people that look like they do are allegedly the ones who commit the crimes and impossibly forgiving when those same people are the victims. justice is rooted in fairness. this verdict specifically and
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no, seriously, where are you guys going? ni hao! ni hao! ni hao! ni hao! ni hao! ni hao! ni hao! ni hao! ni hao! ni hao! ni hao! ni hao! [ female announcer ] the new classroom. see it. live it. share it. on the human network. cisco. on this night, there are two kinds of people on earth. the kind who are totally compelled by lebron james' decision about where to play professional basketball for tens of millions of dollars in the near and midterm. and the kind who thought the whole thing was an overblown obsession with one of life's trivialities. whichever category you're in, we're talking to you for the next four minutes. lebron james is a public figure not because he's a truly great athlete, because of un-godly, unsurpassed media attention and hype that have surrounded him since he was in middle school in akron, ohio. he was on the cover of "sports illustrated" magazine as a high
school junior. he was drafted at 17 by the team up the road, the previously lowly cleveland cavaliers, and incredibly, impossibly given expectations, lebron james did not disappoint. he played brilliantly. he showed love for his hometown, he was a gentleman in the press, he handled his business and private life like a grown-up, and he was a teenager who had been paid more attention for longer than all of the jonas brothers, miley cyrus and lindsay lohan multiplied by each other. then his contract with cleveland expired and so began the courtship of lebron james by nba teams and their cities. in the case of new york city, the campaign to lure lebron started two or three years ago, and included the very public pitch of mayor michael bloomberg. it was frankly, gross. it concluded with tonight's vainglorious hour-long special agreed to by the network and since you have been watching us since the top of the hour, we can report that nbc news has confirmed that lebron picked miami. on the one hand, lebron james
did exactly what everyone who ever worked for someone else dreams of doing. he put all his potential bosses in the palm of his hand and made them beg. viewed through a certain lens, and maybe a stretch, you could see this as the ultimate triumph of labor over capital. on the other hand, he held his hometown hostage for a month and commandeered a tv network and in the most public possible way, picked miami and dumped new york, new jersey, chicago and his childhood sweetheart, cleveland. nice. all right. so let's talk it out. lebron james, awesome stud, self-involved, albeit intimidatingly impressive heel. joining us is sportswriter for "the nation," also author of the new book, "bad sports how owners are ruining the games we love" which will be available july 20th. great to see you, dave. thanks for being here. >> happy lebronica. >> so you wrote that lebron is acting less cool than al gore on "soul train." what do you mean by that? >> first, i just have to say i'm sorry, i just got back from
oakland. i'm sickened by the oscar grant verdict. i just have to say that publicly or i can't talk about anything else. we need justice for oscar grant. back to lebron james. this is such -- yeah. that gives you a sense of some of the perspective here. back to lebron james. lovely segue. it's the worst decision made in florida since the butterfly ballot. it's terrible. i hate this decision. he is going to dwyane wade's team so right away, not only is he spelling doom for the economy of cleveland, i mean, people joke that cleveland has a lebron-based economy, but there's actually some truth to that. it's also true he's now going to dwyane wade's team so he is picking up the mantle of being robin to dwyane wade's batman. he is putting a ceiling on his own potential so every nba fan should be weeping tonight because lebron james has sacrificed his potential at the altar of south beach. >> yeah. you know, i want to talk about sort of the business aspect of this for a second because the title of your book is "bad sports: how owners are ruining the games we love."
at a certain level, it did seem like lebron was sort of seizing control of the owners. at the same time, the spending spree we have seen in the runup to this is all in the context what have is going to be impending labor trouble down the road. so i wonder what you make of this in terms of the relationships between owners and the players, you know, as we roll towards that deadline. >> i would argue it's really bad for the union, because what this represents in terms of lebron james, dwyane wade, chris bosh, and all these mega free agents is stratification inside the union where a small group of superstars will be protected by the owners in the next collective bargaining agreement and a whole ream of minimum salary players. you will look at the miami heat this fall and see the future of the nba. three superstars who are lorded over, then a bunch of players who are extras, who make the league minimum. you know what, basketball is the ultimate team game. this is not how you win championships. i think this is going to end in a horrible disappointment for lebron james. it's bad for the nba, bad for the union.
you know what, it's bad for everybody except espn, that is unless you're a journalist for espn and you just saw your network sacrifice its integrity for the lebron-a-thon. >> you have this situation in which the miami heat and nba basketball will be reinscribing the political economy of the u.s., the vanishing basketball middle class, and you have this sort of superstar economy with a few very, very well compensated players and then the rest, and this is the stake through solidarity. >> exactly. you see it in cleveland, too. on the one hand, we can say cleveland's leaving -- lebron leaving cleveland will devastate that city. $20 million in business in the service industry alone is expected to be lost this year in the immediate periphery around the stadium. i've seen interviews with day laborers who are like i won't be able to work this year because lebron james won't be there. on the other hand, what does it say about our urban planning in this country that our cities are dependent on sports teams and on individual superstars? it ain't good. >> yeah. dave, that's a really good point. he's a writer for a great